The Life of a Young Gardener

The author of The Magnificent English Garden is so fastidious that he even includes the names of gardeners going back to the 16th century. And gives us fascinating details about how gardening was regarded as a legitimate career path.

The employer and his head gardener controlled every aspect of the young gardener’s life. Apprentices in other occupations could not marry, but the prohibition extended on the great estates to journeymen gardeners as well. Although both Percy Thrower and Arthur Hooper found girlfriends, there was no question of marriage for a bothy boy. When Percy Thrower joined the staff of the royal garden at Windsor, he was warned: “Keep your eyes off the head gardener’s daughters”; he didn’t, and ultimately married one of them, but the relationship had to be kept secret for years. One of his colleagues was less prudent and “came–almost on his hands and knees–to the foreman to inform him that he had to get married and would have to leave.”

The Magnificent English Garden, p. 208

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